- August 30th, 2010
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Like anyone, I needed validation as a writer when I was just getting started. So naturally I was disappointed when I was turned down by acquaintances who were published authors when I asked if they would look over my work to give me some feedback. Therefore, when the opportunity came up for me to read and critique my friend Dylan’s epic fantasy “Dawn of Ragnorok” I made sure not to disappoint. I feel it’s important to not only give constructive, positive feedback, but honest and helpful feed back while bringing a smile to their face. The letter below, in my opinion, is how it should be done. If you’re an accomplished writer, and a friend asks for a little feedback, take the time and do for them what you naturally would have liked done for you:
I liked your story. It’s very “Robert E. Howard.” You have a gift for writing and have your own personal style, your own “stamp,” on your work. You have a talent for packing profound meaning into short phrases that are uniquely your own.
You have three dimensional characters that readers care about. That’s difficult for new writers to do. You also have a very realistic backdrop that comes with it’s own “history.” Again this is a difficult task to accomplish for those getting started. You’ve made a character out of the landscape through great attention to detail and vivid description.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that we all need editors. You, me, and professional writers. Even people whose day job is editing need their book edited by others.
Your grammar and punctuation are very well done, which will put you ahead of the game (and save you some $$) when it comes editing time. As far as that other thing editors are good for (giving advice/suggestions on making changes to plot/story), I personally don’t see any obvious areas that need work. I’m certain there have to be, but they don’t leap out at me. Your story seems well rounded.
That being said, the areas I see that could use professional guidance include (and keep in mind, these are just my opinions):
1. Shorten the battle scenes and/or reduce the number of them. They are too long and too detailed. I found myself skipping ahead to where the story picks up. Also, consider thinking of another way of conveying the message or carry the scene without yet another battle peppered with testosterone fueled dialogue…
2. …which brings me to the next point. Be careful with your adjectives. On occasion your sentences get bogged down with excessive, over-the-top descriptors that would make the most seasoned of Conan comic readers cringe. Yes, there is a fine line between writing to genre and crossing over into cheezy. You, my friend, dance with the devil on the razor’s fine edge that is the city limits of Cheezville.
3. You have the same affliction as I and many from our generation. I think in our youth we read books giving us the impression it was okay to habitually use the word “smirk.” An editor used to say of my writing, “There’s a lot of smirking going on here,” and would shake her head sadly. You, however, take it to a whole new level. There were pages I felt like I was watching an episode of the “Smurfs.” Except instead of saying “smurf” every other word, “smirk” was used: “Hey Papa Smirk, you better get smirking!” Smirkity, smirk, smirk! Again, think of alternative words or means of conveying a person’s expression. This is an opportunity to employ the literary device of “show, don’t tell.”
4. A good editor will show you the proper and effective use of ellipses, because…the…only…characters that can…get away…with talking…like this are…Captain Kirk…and William Shatner.
And that’s about all I have to say, for what it’s worth. I did enjoy the story and I hope you choose to do something with your epic tale. Your options these days are many and varied and I wish you the best of luck!